The tobacco black market is fed by none other than high tobacco taxes and subsequent high prices.
A media release by the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) revealed that a recent media investigation has reported that Customs is currently seizing around 125,000 smuggled cigarettes and 155 kilograms of loose tobacco per month.
The group’s co-director Nancy Loucas said that what is described by customs as “a lucrative market,” is thought to be eight times more profitable than cocaine – and one which has attracted organised crime.
She added that ironically this being fed by none other than high tobacco taxes and subsequent high prices. “With the Government set to get even tougher on the appeal and availability of legal cigarettes, there is a concern it will only lead to more illicit cigarette smuggling. It doesn’t have to be the case though, particularly if smokers are activity encouraged to switch to safer nicotine products,” she said.
New Zealand proposes a lower tobacco excise tax
Similarly on announcing a new proposal lowering tobacco excise, last year New Zealand’s First Party leader Winston Peters had said that while the aim was to stop punishing smokers with high taxes as a strategy to help them quit, this approach would also help reduce contraband activities.
“High tobacco excise has fuelled a huge black market for tobacco, with sophisticated criminal operations avoiding tax by buying and importing cigarettes from parts of the world where tobacco excise is low. Less sophisticated criminals target dairies and service stations which are too often victims of violent crime. Lowering excise will reduce the value of stolen cigarettes to petty criminals.”
Peters, said his party would reduce cigarette prices to $20 per pack and remove excise taxes on safer alternative products, and emphasized that this decision had not been influenced by entities with vested interests. “I haven’t seen a cigarette company, no … I’ve never met a vaping company in my life. Don’t challenge my good faith and integrity.”